Someday we will live in a wonderland of cars that drive themselves. You’ll walk out the door, the car will arrive, open the door for you, you get in, and it whisks you everywhere you need to go. Today is not that day–yet. But we’re getting closer. So what’s in the way?

Here are five autonomous car roadblocks we need to overcome.

  1. Security. You want to make sure a software crash doesn’t cause an actual crash. You also want to keep malicious actors from breaking into your car, especially its software, if it could let them take remote control of it. And the car will know where you’ve been. Who else gets access to that data?
  2. Weather. Autonomous cars do great on dry, sunny roads. Rain? Snow? It’s getting better but it needs a lot more real-world work. Good thing they’re testing autonomous cars at the University of Michigan, not just in Arizona and California.
  3. Regulations and standards. What makes an autonomous car safe? Most countries have separate regulations for the vehicle and the driver. Put simply, we need new regulations that apply when the vehicle IS the driver. Not to mention questions of liability, insurance and the like. Work is being done, but we’re not there yet.
  4. Ownership. Some people assume we’ll just buy an autonomous car like we buy a car now and keep it in our garage. But will we need to? Most development is coming in fleets, and the leading use cases are logistics and taxi services. Will we get over the idea that we need to own a car?
  5. Humans. Yeah, us. Will we trust them enough to create a demand for them? Will we share the road with them? One of the biggest challenges for autonomous software is predicting what a car driven by a human will do. Not signaling or signaling and not changing lanes is the least of the challenges. Will we leave them alone when they trundle down our street unoccupied?

None of these roadblocks is insurmountable but some, especially the ones involving people, may take a little longer to get over than others.

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